It was as if I had blocked out all of Chappelle's horrific jokes about women before entering the building. It was like I only wanted to remember the groundbreaking work he did about race in America on Chappelle's Show or think about how much I loved and still love all the jokes in Half Baked. Sure, that feigned ignorance was my own fault. But it had me wondering: When, if ever, is popular culture going to be offered as entertainment for everyone?
As a straight woman, a lot of popular culture is not really for me, anyway. Nor is most of it for people of color, people who fall all over the spectrum of gender identity or people who exist outside the confines of heterosexuality. It's sold to us, for sure, but it is not actually created with us in mind. As a woman, it is not meant to activate my pleasure centers or make me feel good things; it is not meant to make me feel good about my body or anyone else's body, feel good about the last 200 or so years of history, or feel good about being a woman in general, really.
But as a woman, I'm supposed to partake in this popular culture about me. Not only am I supposed to enjoy it, but I'm supposed to have analyzed it and have an opinion about it. I'm supposed to have decided if Iggy Azalea's butt is real, or if Nicki Minaj's butt is real, or, most recently, if Kim Kardashian's butt is real. Then I'm supposed to have an opinion on whether or not the humans attached to these butts are feminists or not. The problem with all of that is, I just don't care. I don't care if these women are feminists (or if their butts are feminists, either). I don't care if their butts are real -- because as a woman who is a human and a feminist, it is none of my business. Their bodies belong to them.
In general, I'm a modest person who doesn't care to look at strangers' butts most of the time unless I have actively chosen to do so -- but in the world of the Internet, there is no escaping it. Even if I didn't click on one of the hundreds of links proclaiming that Kim Kardashian's butt was going to "break the Internet," I was going to see her butt anyway. It was in my Twitter feed and in my Facebook feed -- not only in its original magazine-cover form, but also in dozens of positions of mockery. I'm sure many of you saw the video of the image of Kardashian's butt attached to a coffee maker so it made her look like she was, well, pooping when the coffee dispensed. (I won't link to the video, because I hate it so much.) I found the video to be so offensive that I thought about deleting the people who had posted it, but soon realized that would accomplish nothing.
But this butt problem and how we feel as female-identified people when the popular culture that mocks us is sold to us isn't a new problem. We've always been the gag. Here are just few examples that come to mind out of the thousands of times in my life that I've had to disconnect my thoughts and my feelings from popular culture to enjoy it.
Though I loved Goldie Hawn's bubbly-idiot routine on Laugh-In as a kid, it didn't take me long to realize that even when she was the star of the skit delivering the punchline, we were still supposed to laugh at her -- not with her.